This week’s Torah portion is “Chayei Sara”, meaning “The Life of Sara” (Genesis 23:1–25:18). Although we learn much about Sara’s life, qualities, and virtues, the portion actually deals more with her death rather than her life.

Sara dies at the age of one hundred and twenty seven and is brought to Hebron for burial. Well aware of the holiness of Hebron and the Cave of Machpela where Adam and Eve are buried, Abraham sought to acquire the Cave so that he could bury his wife Sara there, as well.

One problem: The cave belongs to Ephron, the crook. Ephron didn’t want to sell the cave so he devised a scheme in which he tried to convince Abraham to take the Cave of Machpela for free! As a gift! But Ephron was one who was known to always take back gifts he had given, so Abraham didn’t fall for that one. Abraham didn’t want anyone to ever be able to claim sovereignty over the place that his wife would be buried, along with the Patriarchs and Matriarchs who followed that were buried there too.

So after further attempted scams, shenanigans, and negotiations, Abraham pays a handsome sum to Ephron in order to acquire the cave and the surrounding land, complete with witnesses and documentation. With this, Abraham established that Hebron would belong to the Jewish people for all eternity.

If it’s so clear that Abraham and the Jewish people own Hebron – then why has Hebron been the site of so much tension? So much violence. Why was it that for over 1000 years Jews weren’t even allowed to enter the Cave of Machpela? Furthermore, have you ever noticed that it is the Cave of Machpela, the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus, and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem that are the most disputed pieces of land in Israel today?

The answer is simple. It is these three pieces of land that are not only belong to the Jewish people by Divine right, but they were individually purchased, as well. Abraham purchased Hebron, Jacob purchased Nablus, and David purchased Jerusalem. Our enemies just can’t stand legitimacy and they can’t stand truth. This is why it is these three places in Israel that are subject to the most troubles, tension, and violence — because our legitimacy over these places is even greater than our legitimacy over anywhere else in the Land.

No matter. Ultimately our claim to the Land of Israel is not due to any contracts or declarations – it is due to the Almighty God who created the world and decided for Himself which parts of it He wants to give to whom.

Shabbat Shalom from Israel!

Rabbi Ari Enkin

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